Raife sat alone at a booth at Provinos restaurant . He was a regular at the establishment. The waitresses knew him by name and some even knew his order: Chicken Romano, a glass of Merlot and water with lemon. Raife was tall but not skinny. He had a strong chin and steely blue eyes. His shoulders would fill out a suit to perfection but he looked best in a flannel shirt and jeans. Brenda could attest to the fact that he looked good in 501's, she had admired that side of him on many occasions. Brenda would attempt to flirt with Raife when he sat in her section but she knew that her efforts would be in vain. It didn't stop her from trying. There weren't a lot of tall handsome, educated men in East Ridge Tennessee. But Raife wouldn't settle again. He had settled once and it cost him almost half his life. He would rather be alone than together with someone who wasn't right. And she didn't have to be perfect. She just had to be perfect for him. He ordered another glass of Merlot and stared into the flickering flame. As he sat, he continued to ponder the soon approaching winter. He was ready for a break. Work wasn't stressful for Raife. Life was just becoming, well, it was becoming daily. He decided that he would get away for a couple of weeks. A co-worker named Chuck had a cabin in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia. Chuck said a couple of times that he could use it if he ever wanted to get away. It wasn't elaborate but it had all the necessities, linens, towels, a great big wood burning fire place and best of all a big rocking chair porch with a beautiful view. Raife swallowed the last sip of his wine, left a $20. On the table and walked out. Brenda tried to make small talk with him as he left but she could tell that he had something on his mind so she let it be.
The next morning at work Raife pulled Chuck aside during break. He asked Chuck if it would be ok to use the cabin for a couple of weeks. Chuck asked when and Raife said "this weekend". With no plans to use the cabin the next couple of weeks Chuck agreed and it was settled. They agreed on a rate and shook on it. No need for a contract, they were friends and this was after all East Ridge Tennessee.
It was hard on Friday for Raife to keep his mind on his work. He had one thing he wanted to do, get away and do as much of nothing as he could. He would take a book, a few changes of clothes and his Labrador General. That's it. Nothing else needed. Raife wasn't a loner, he enjoyed people. But he did enjoy being alone on occasion just to recharge his batteries and get his head straight.
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